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Winter Is Here. Protect Your Pets From Dangerously Cold Weather

Posted In: Feline Health & Wellness, Canine Health & Wellness

Winter in the Midwest can change on a dime – one minute it is freezing cold and the next it feels like early spring. Regardless, temperature tend to drop rapidly once the sun goes down, and it is common for winter temps to drop below freezing at night through early morning.

It is a misconception that a pet’s fur will keep them warm while they’re outside, but the reality is – if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pet!

Veterinarians at the Humane Society of Missouri’s Animal Medical Center of Mid-America urge all pet parents to keep the safety of their four-legged friends top of mind this winter with our lifesaving motto: 35° and Below, Protect Fido!

Here are some tips to protect pets in cold temperatures:

  • Bring pets inside: Pets should not be left outside in the cold. Young puppies and senior dogs have more difficulty regulating their body temperature, but even pets with a thick coat are at risk of frostbite and hypothermia.
     
  • Provide a cozy space: If animals must be left outdoors, provide a well-insulated, draft-free, appropriately sized shelter with a sturdy covering to prevent icy winds from entering. Do not place blankets inside the shelter. If it rains or snows, the blankets can become wet and freeze. Instead, insulate the shelter with hay or straw. Adequate shelter is mandatory by law.
     
  • Use caution during time outside: Dogs still need to go outside for potty breaks, but limit the time they spend outdoors. If you chose to take your dog for a walk, opt for mid-day when temperatures are at their warmest, and keep it short. Watch out for icy surfaces that could cause you and your dog to slip and fall.
     
  • Prevent injury by examining pet paws: When your pet comes inside, check their paws for signs of cold-weather damage, such as a cracked paw pad, redness between toes and any bleeding. Pay attention for areas on the ground that contain rock salt and steer clear as these harmful chemicals can result in paw injuries or cause serious stomach issues for your pet upon ingestion.
     
  • Layer up your pup: If your dog has a thinner coat or seems bothered by the cold, consider a sweater or a dog coat for trips outside. But, be careful to keep layers dry – a wet sweater or coat can make your dog colder.
     
  • Schedule a winter wellness exam: If your pet has not visited the veterinarian for their annual wellness exam, don’t delay. Cold weather may worsen certain medical conditions such as arthritis.

If you see an animal in distress, call your local police and the Humane Society of Missouri Animal Cruelty Hotline immediately at (314) 647-4400.

The Animal Medical Center of Mid-America has veterinarians at two locations that can answer questions about your pet’s health. Call 314-951-1534 or click here to request an appointment online.